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A unique project following the full life story of a single oak tree reaches a finale this week, with the first of a series of manor exhibitions at Art in Action, where all the items made from the tree are being brought together for the first time. The products range from the waste sawdust used by legendary chef Raymond Blanc to smoke salmon, to a throne chair worth £6000, and dozens of other items including charcoal, wood block prints, tables, benches, door, house, boat, and woodchip for bioenergy.

  • The OneOak project is an environmental project of the Sylva Foundation, following the full life story of one oak tree.
  • The aim of the project is to bring people closer to the importance of our woodlands and of wood in modern society.
  • The 222 year old OneOak tree was felled on the Blenheim Estate in January 2010, witnessed by 250 school children. It had been grown in a plantation for its timber, having been planted in 1788; the same year that The Times was first published and when the French Revolution was just beginning to stir.
  • The OneOak tree is now the most studied oak tree in Britain: it has been weighed, measured with lasers to create a 3D model, studied by a dendrochronologist, and had its carbon content estimated.
  • It has been featured by dozens of artists, sculptors and photographers.
  • Many of Britain’s leading designer-makers have made items using the wood of the OneOak tree. These total over 40 different products, and counting.
  • The 250 children who witnessed the felling each planted a young oak tree in January 2011, one year after the tree was felled, to fulfil the cycle in sustainable forest management.
  • The first exhibition is at Art in Action, followed by six weeks at Blenheim Palace, then six weeks at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.


Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation and project co-ordinator Dr Gabriel Hemery said “this has been an amazing project that has inspired both the public and those who make a living working with wood and caring for our woodlands. Everyone has given their time to the project in so many different ways because they have been inspired by the concept:- the realisation that trees and wood are still vital to life even in modern society.”

Dr Hemery continued “after three years of hard work it is immensely exciting to be bringing together all the various elements of the OneOak project for our exhibitions during the Summer and Autumn. We will be able to show the public the stunning artwork, spell-binding films, earth-shattering science, and the myriad of truly amazing wood-based products. The only products that we won’t be able include in real life in the exhibitions will be the house and the boat!”

The OneOak exhibition at Art in Action is replacing the usual ‘Woodworking’ section; the marquee will be filled uniquely with all the products of the OneOak tree. Artists, musicians, sculptors and designer-makers will be on-hand to talk and demonstrate about their work in the OneOak project. Some 25,000 people are expected to attend over the four days, and where special measures have been put in place to cope with the soggy ground.  See note from Art in Action

The following have been made to date: firewood, woodchip (to heat a house for 6 weeks), sawdust for smoking food by Raymond Blanc, charcoal, bracing beams for a house, transom beam in a boat rowed in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Flotilla, door and frame, chest, pedestal table, coffee table, throne chair, clock, lantern, moebius sculpture, jewellery, acorn oakbot sculpture from waste slabwood, memorial sculpture, carved bowls, carved spoons, turned bowls, carvings, automata, commemorative garden bench by disabled workers, five benches for primary schools including the spider bench, contemplation bench, MakeIT! bench national school design competition, nesting tables, fine furniture competition winners pieces, small craft items, deer, viola chin rest, printing blocks, relief carving, sounding bowl.

Details of the OneOak products along with the stories of their making can be found here:

The project website is

Exhibition dates:

Art in Action, Waterperry                             19th – 22nd July 2012                      Art in Action

Blenheim Palace                                               25th July – 4th October                  OneOak at Blenheim Palace

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh               12th October – 2nd December    Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

More information

download the full News Release

download the full News Release

Download the full News Release


end of News Release

OneOak website

OneOak website

Over the last two and a half years, ever since the OneOak tree was felled in January 2010, we have been endeavoring to make as many and as varied items as possible from the tree to demonstrate how important trees and wood are to us in modern life.

Now that the first of our finale exhibitions is about to open (Art in Action July 19-22), we can list for the first time the number and variety of items made from the OneOak tree.

Here is a list of items made so far that exceeds 30 in number, while for some items there have been multiple versions (e.g. benches for five different schools) – the links point to stories on the OneOak blog over the last two and half years. See also our Products page on the OneOak website

  1. firewood from branchwood
  2. woodchip, from branchwood, for heating a house
  3. sawdust for smoking food, waste from processing other items
  4. charcoal
  5. bracing beams for a house
  6. transom beam in a boat, rowed in the Queens’ Diamond Jubilee Flotilla
  7. door and frame
  8. chest
  9. pedestal table
  10. coffee table
  11. throne chair
  12. clock
  13. lantern
  14. moebius sculpture
  15. jewellery
  16. acorn oakbot sculpture, from waste slabwood
  17. memorial sculpture, from branchwood
  18. carved bowls
  19. carved spoons
  20. turned bowls
  21. carvings
  22. automata
  23. Commemorative garden bench
  24. five benches for primary schools, including the spider bench
  25. contemplation bench
  26. MakeIT! bench, national school design competition
  27. nesting tables, fine furniture competition winner
  28. small craft items
  29. deer
  30. viola chin rest
  31. printing blocks
  32. relief carving
  33. sounding bowl

We will update this list in the future and include information on some of the items that so far have not been featured in the OneOak blog.

We hope to see at one of our exhibitions during 2012


A student who won a national prize to have his seat design made into a piece of furniture from the OneOak tree has returned to the National School of Furniture at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College (OCVC). This time he came with classmates from the Arden School in Solihull, to see how his winning design was being put together at OCVC and to lend a helping hand.

Oliver Mason won the MakeIT! award in June this year (read more) with his design for a seat.  MakeIT!  is an sector-based project and competition for schools, organised by Proskills, to show students how furniture is designed and made in the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors (FFI) Industry. 

MakeIT winner Oliver Mason visits OCVC

MakeIT winner Oliver Mason (front right) at the National School of Furniture, Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, with fellow students from Arden School, Solihull. Here they are learning to steam-bend oak from the OneOak tree. Photo OCVC.


Oliver and classmates had a tour of the facilities, undertook some practical activities and then made some components for the winning furniture design, supervised by OCVC’s Woodmill Technician Geoff Carter.

MakeIT! Furniture winners announced at the National School of Furniture in Oxford

The first ever MakeIT! Furniture awards ceremony was held at The National School of Furniture at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College as part of the Summer Show on the 13th June, bringing together industry experts, teachers and students to recognise Britain’s emerging design talent.

Led by Proskills, the sector skills council for the process and manufacturing sector, the MakeIT! Furniture programme aimed to encourage students to develop their design skills.

Oliver Mason of Arden School in the West Midlands won the prize for the best solid wood design and his entry, which will now be produced from a locally sourced, sustainable tree as part of the OneOak Project, attracted high praise from the panel of judges.

Presentation at the MakeIT competition awards

Presentation at the MakeIT competition awards. Left to right: Chris Hyde (National School of Furniture), Teacher Liz Allton from Arden School, Winner Oliver Mason, Gabriel Hemery (Sylva Foundation CEO), Terry Watts (Proskills CEO)

Oliver has won for his school a £100 cheque from the British Furniture Manufacturers’ Association (BFM), a Pantone Essential Effect Kit and a £100 voucher for Axminster Tools donated from The National School of Furniture, which his teacher, Liz Allton said was very welcome.  “It is an amazing prize that Oliver has won on top of his KS3 award and I am very excited about seeing his design once it has been produced from the Blenheim Palace oak tree. It really adds something extra special to the competition for everyone that the design will actually be made. I am so pleased that my students have done so well.” Liz says

The prizes were awarded by Jackie Bazeley (BFM), Paul Preston (Proskills Furniture Industry Lead) Neil Stevenson (NEJ Stevenson Ltd), Gabriel Hemery (The Sylva Foundation) and Chris Hyde (The National School of Furniture), who presented a range of cameras and design equipment to students.

The programme’s sponsors included the BFM, The National School of Furniture, The Sylva Foundation, Fujifilm, and Pantone, illustrating the wider commercial importance of the MakeIT! Furniture programme; Jackie Bazeley said the quality of entries points towards a bright future for the industry. “Design lies at the core of the manufacturing process, and the creative industry has an important part to play in economic recovery. Without design, how can manufacturing, fashion and retailing grow? They all start from the creative process,” Jackie points out.

“We’ve got to get young people interested in design and it needs to be promoted in school so that children are aware of it as a potential career option. The MakeIT! Furniture programme is a perfect example of how this can be achieved. We are introducing career options into schools and heightening awareness of the opportunities the furniture industry offers”, concludes Jackie.

Encouraging students to express their creativity is an important part of this wider agenda, and while many people believe they lack creative ability, tuition and guidance can help them develop their skills. This reinforces the wider importance of the programme, says Terry Watts, Proskills CEO.

“We’ve been very pleased with the response to the MakeIT! Furniture programme. It attracted over 3,500 students and we received entries from across the country. It has demonstrated the creative opportunities available in the furniture industry and its wider commercial importance,” he outlines.

“The student survey showed that after completing the MakeIT! Furniture programme three times as many students would consider an apprenticeship in the industry.”

“We will continue to work with both schools and industry so that the MakeIT! Furniture programme engages students in major design challenges.”

The Winners of MakeIT! Furniture 2010/2011 competition are:

  • Key Stage 3:
    Oliver Mason – Arden School – West Midlands
  • Key Stage 4:
    Michael Bolton – Arden School – West Midlands
  • Key Stage 5 :
    Scott Blacker – Wheatley Park School – Oxfordshire
  • Best Wood Solid Design:
    Oliver Mason – Arden School – West Midlands

About MakeIT! Furniture:

MakeIT Furniture

MakeIT! Furniture is an industry-based project and competition for schools, mapped to the national curriculum and Diplomas. It familiarises students with how furniture is designed and made in the Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors  Industry through researching and designing products, and investigating the various different aspects of the industry – from sourcing raw materials to producing finished products.

More photographs of the awards ceremony are available here


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